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TO  QUIT  OK  XOT TO  QUIT                               255
Perhaps after a consideration of these competing absurdities the
reader may have a faint inkling of the paramount absurdity of the
generalization which hitherto he has bten inclined to accept at its
face value—* India is eager to defend herself if only she is free-*
The Mad Hatter never t>aid anything quite so muddle-headed as
Will we quit ?
This is by far the most difficult question to answer, because it
depends—and always ha^> depended ever since the dawix of
Indian freedom—on the attitude of the Indians themselves.
If the Cripps proposals had been accepted, we should be very
much nearer the exit than we are to-day. Our bags would have
been packed, most of our good-byes would have been said, and the
taxi would have been waiting ac the door. But the Cripps proposals
were not accepted, and so everybody is in an uneasy state of
transition. It is like living in, suitcases, waiting for a telegram.
There is no point in rehashing the controversy which raged
'round the Cripps proposals. Their details are tedious, and in any
case they are as dead as mutton, because the psychological atmo-
sphere in which they were put forward can never be recreated.
Only two points about them need concern the general reader*
Firstly, they were regarded by both the great Indian minorities
as a capitulation to the Hindus. The Muslims and the Untouch-
ables cried with equal passion/6 You have sold us to the Hindus I9
And the Muslims and the Untouchables—160 million all told—
were both quite right.
The second things to realize about the proposals is that the vast
majority of the Hindus bitterly regret their folly in rejecting them.
Ail over India, if you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of
Brahmins gnashing their teeth at the thought of the paradise they
so lightly spurned. For a paradise, potentially it really was ; in
1 Pakistan would, of course, present a very much simpler problem of defence thin
Hindustan, partly because of its smaller area and comparatively insignificant coasc-
line, but principally because the Muslims are, and always have been, the warriors of
India ; they have a natural capacity to command (as they proved for 800 years) and
in the present war they have contributed by far the larger proportion of men to the
services. Apart from these considerations, Pakistan •would lose no tirao in forging
defensive links with the rest ol the Muslim i.orld.